Also announced, Odessa International Film Festival, which runs July 13-21, will open with the screening of Matteo Garrone’s Reality.

Swedish writer-director Axel Petersén’s feature debut Avalon [pictured] was the big winner at the third edition of the VOICES film festival (July 6-10) in Russia’s Vologda, picking up the Grand Prix and Best Actor honours for male lead Johannes Brost.

Avalon had won the FIPRESCI Prize for Best First Feature in Toronto last year and was the opening film of this year’s Gothenburg International Film Festival. International sales are being handled by TrustNordisk.

The International Jury led by veteran director Alexander Proshkin and including Austrian-born director Hans Weingartner and French actress-producer Julie Gayet, presented their Best Director award to Slovenian filmmaker Olmo Omerzu for his debut A Night Too Young, the Special Jury Prize to Svetlana Baskova’s feature debut For Marx and Best Actress to Hannah Hoekstra for her performance in Hemel.

In addition, the festival’s audience voted to give their Audience Award to Vincent Garenq’s second feature Présume Coupable (Guilty) which will be released in Russia by Kino bez Granits.

Although VOICES (Vologda Independent Cinema From European Screens) saw its budget slashed by some two-thirds following changes in the political administration of the historical city, the general partner Russian steel company Severstal remained onboard, and the festival organisers were rewarded with full cinemas by an enthusiastic audience of local cinephiles keen to see something outside of the mainstream.

Moreover, Germany’s Goethe Institut and German Films were instrumental in bringing a number of films and guests to the festival to celebrate the “Germany in Russia Year of Culture”.

Guests from Germany included the actress-singer Katja Riemann, actress Friederike Becht (Westwind), director David N. Wnendt (Combat Girls), and producers Johannes Rexin (Heimatfilm), Karsten Stöter (Rohfilm), Mathias Schwerbrock (Film Base Berlin), Simone Baumann (German Films), Kirill Krasovsky ( Film) and Rainer Mockert (Z Classics).

Local industry figures such as producer-composer Andrei Sigle and producer Roman Borisevich, Elena Romanova, head of international co-productions at Fond Kino, joined German colleagues in a discussion on the representation of 20th history in Russian and German cinema and the potential for German-Russian co-production.

Meanwhile, preparations are now on the final stretch for the opening of the Odessa International Film Festival (13-21 July) with the screening of Matteo Garrone’s Reality in the Black Sea port’s Opera and Ballet Theatre.

One of certain highlights of this year’s programme is an open-air screening of City Lights on the famous Potemkin Stairs with Geraldine Chaplin and Charlie Chaplin’s grandson Charles Sistovaris in attendance and seating capacity for up to 12,000 spectators.

Moreover, Peter Greenaway will visit Odessa to give a master class to students of the festival’s Summer School, and international film critics will  share the secrets of their trade with budding Ukrainian counterparts in the newly created School of Young Film Critics.

The festival’s Industry section will present a ‘works in progress’ showcase of new Ukrainian films and co-productions with Ukraine and a pitching forum for Ukrainian features as well as roundtables on such issues as internet copyright management, the international promotion of films, the do’s and don’ts of pitching, and the relationship between television and cinema.